As I try to board, the old guy at the bottom of the gangway says,

‘Hold your horses, pipsqueak. Where’s your husband?’

I say to him, ‘I’m my husband.’

He looks me up and down.

‘Don’t be a clown’, he says. ‘Two …. or none. That’s what my instructions are. Two or none.’

He folds his hairy arms and tucks his flat face down into his beard.

I’m thinking, ‘I’ve seen the weather forecast, and it’s not good.’ Overhead, clouds are beginning to clog up the sky’s bronchial tube.

‘Look,’ I pleaded. ‘Let’s negotiate.’

‘One question,’ he says. ‘Are you married?’

‘Yes.’ I say this with a firm purpose.

‘Who to?’ he asks with a skewed smile.

‘To myself,’ says I confidently.

He drops the smile and it rolls down his chin like the devil’s sputum.

He points. ‘See there, the sign says Two by Two. Can’t you count? Two …. By…. Two…’ – this said with two fingers held up in front of my stylets * as though I was innumerate.

I calm myself down with long, lung-free breaths, and try again.

‘Imagine, if you would, a creature that doesn’t need two to do …..the ….thing.’ He watches, silently, sullenly. ‘And imagine, every so often… every, say, twenty minutes or so, POOF, out pops a baby, so sweet, so absolutely identical to its mother that ….’

He backs away, shakes his head, turns and staggers up the gangplank, disappearing into a dim cacophony of bestial marital mating.



* Stylets – Anatomy – ‘Sucking mouthparts’ of Aphids, (as opposed to a little-known Tamla Motown all-sister group, The Stylets, whose big hit, Kiss My Tarsus* was number 7 in the U.S. charts for two days in May ’68.)

* Tarsus – section of insect’s leg.







Best not to start again

and again and… if

you’re wrongly placed;

best maybe to leg-it-

best say, hitchhike

to the ferry, catch

the overnight, sleep-drowse

on a squelch

of lumpen sweated


plastic seats –

imitation airport –

and greet the dawn like

a still-drunk farmer

choking for another Guinness

before the long drive

home westward to the last

gaunt cows

in the top field, where

the old songs blow across

your face like banshees,

or like the breath

of Annie when she

first kissed you full-on

after the funeral

of Uncle Frank

god rest his soul,

who died swearing

he’d reformed

and was ready to

give it another go.

Let’s pray that worked

for him

wherever he is.

Who can see a stunning landscape

each morning and not want to explore?


Or the ocean, and not feel that tug

beyond the common horizon?


Look!  I’m offering you a boat, plus

I’ll do most of the paddling.


That feeling inside you, it’s gnawing

at you to reach out beyond yourself.


Life is a flea that bites you

so you’ll move your attention to the new.


What’s sacred, say a good poem,

coaxes you  – wade out from the shore

into the unknown, those wide-open spaces

inside you.


Hafiz, (tr Ladinsky and Rob).

Words/ cages; the 8th dwarf, his dictionary in Snow White’s lap; why attach when we have one

only one proto-solid heart anyway? Crop circles for example; and geese

to the Avon whose rustwire screech my brains out

in sleet back then I run. On one side, river –

the other first-breath. Let me go! the neighbour

laments from his shattered star. Mum

and me in Caernarfon on the castle bridge.

Come back! I need safe passage. How

many deaths in a flight of fancy?

The rules sketch appetite, fretwork. Illusion

and the felt unknown. I must phone home.

Found poem
‘The Most Perfect Thing’ by Tim Birkhead.
Guillemot Eggs

Black cap
Small blotch
Big blotch

Blots pepper
Scrawl scrawl
And blotch
White cap

Nose cap


Hair is funny

Boxes of it

Under the stairs


You open your mouth with it

Like straps of sinew

You rot through its hokusai voices


It is mobile as hate

The statues invade the gallery

The hour hand combs


braids through red

The clues ejaculate

Scene by scene


I have no scull

This is my bus –

Red dress. Nits


I’m being followed

By nothing


I have hidden



You are


Her.              Don’t


Leave me

With myself





with only you

not myself

not her